Gild works on Big Data algorithm

Posted by Mike Magee

One of the reasons why talented programmers can't find work is that their CVs are being run past lazy HR people who can't be bothered thinking for a living.

According to the New York Times, this trend means that really talented workers are sitting on the dole, while their companies insist that they need to hire foreign workers.

This is because when HR search for good candidates they are ignoring talent in favour of degrees and career patterns which are easy to spot.

For example, some genius programmers don't have degrees and might even have experience which totally eclipses three or four years downing beer kegs in some university somewhere.

Now an outfit called Gild is working on a much better big data algorithm to sort out the mess. Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at Gild said that the traditional markers people use for hiring can be wrong, profoundly wrong.

She is trying to adapt something called work-force science to see whether technology can also be used to predict how well a programmer will perform in a job. At the moment the company scours the internet for clues, such as how well regarded a candidate's code is by other programmers, and if it gets reused. 

The method is still being developed, but the fact it exists shows that there are some serious problems in IT recruitment.

Gild itself uses its technology to hire its own staff. It came up with one person who had been living on his credit card for ages. However, its algorithm had determined that he had the highest programming score in Southern California.

Jade Dominguez had been ignored because he taught himself programming, had been an average student in high school and hadn't bothered with college.

His problem was that he wanted to prove that he could succeed wildly without it and he had read everything he could find. He started a company that printed custom T-shirts, first from his house, then from a 1,000-square-foot warehouse space he rented. He decided that he needed a website, so he taught himself programming.

Dominguez obtained a solid reputation on GitHub and made a quite a contribution. His code for Jekyll-Bootstrap, a function used in building websites, was reused by an impressive 1,267 other developers. His language and habits showed a passion for product development and several programming tools, like Rails and JavaScript, which were interesting to Gild.

All the material that the prototype database search found was that his blogs and posts on Twitter suggested that he was opinionated but that was something that the company wanted.  He was hired and did rather well.

Ming said that her software is proving that Silicon Valley is not as merit-based as people imagine. She thinks that talented people are ignored, misjudged or fall through the cracks all the time.

Part of the reason for her starting her work was that she was born male and had a gender change. Her goal was to remove a lot of human bias from HR recruiting decisions.

While the Gild system is being used, it still does not provide the sort of detail that HR wants. Then again, the system is still in its infancy.